Dr. Tracy's Advice Column

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Men Who Are Born Users
Changing Friendship To Love
Who’s In Charge?

Men Who Are Born Users

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hi! Oh gosh I don't know where to start. I recently had one of my many breakups with my now ex- boyfriend AGAIN! He recently got a job. He has been staying with me the whole time he wasn't working. But now that he started working he left. This is not the 1st time he's done that.

He tells me he loves me and he wants a future with me but I get confused with some of his actions. When we are not together he parties out a lot. And then calls me when he's drunk late at night. Why? I mean if he doesn't love me and he's left me then why does he keep calling me? What should I do to make him understand he either changes or he needs to leave me alone.


Dear Desperate,

There are men who are born users. They have a built-in radar that homes in on women like you who are willing to be used.

The question is not why he does what he does, but rather why you let him get away with it. He stays with you when he's out of work and then breaks up with you when he gets a job and doesn’t need you anymore. Well, the only reason he keeps doing that is because you’ve taught him that it’s okay to do.

You say you're confused by his actions. When he’s gotten what he wants from you, he dumps you and goes on his way. Nothing confusing about that. It's a clear pattern. What's confusing you is that he talks a good game, telling you what you want to hear, and you're naive enough to believe him. You need to remind yourself that talk is cheap. Judge him by what he does, not what he says.

Why does he call you when he’s drunk? Because he can. Because he thinks that you’ll take him back, or because he’s wants to reassure himself that he’s got you in his pocket if he wants you.

If, the very first time he had tried leaving and then calling you to come back, you had said, "No way," he’d be long gone and you’d be on with your life by now. Or, maybe he would have learned that he had to treat you better. But when you let him walk all over you, that’s just what guys like him do.

I recommend that you read Wayne Dyer’s book, “Pulling Your Own Strings,” about how not to allow yourself to be victimized by other people. Then take action to stop being a victim.

The next time he calls, tell him to get lost. Let him know you’re moving on, and do. This man isn’t going to change. Why should he? He gets to do exactly what he wants and finds a woman like you to enable him.

Find yourself a new boyfriend. This time, make sure he can take care of himself, has a job and doesn’t need you for a crash pad.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Changing Friendship To Love

Dear Dr. Tracy,

I need help! I am 27, never married, been in 4 serious long-term relationships... I have a stable steady job and a pretty decent life after getting over some depression and anxiety that chased me for a few years.

My problem: I am in love with a co-worker and friend (Sam) who I have worked with closely for 4 years. I've dated others during this time, but I always come back to these incredible feelings for him. I spend 50+ hours a week with Sam, and we share everything, but never these particular feelings, which have taken over years to really become intense for me. We flirt, we tease, but we never cross that physical line for fear of losing the great friendship and the work relationship.

I can't be sure he feels it too, but I have a good idea that he does, but he is way too decent to ever push it. But now I think I need to push it. I'm looking for another job for separate reasons, so the only thing really at risk is the friendship, but that's a huge risk. I've never had a friend like him, where I feel good in every way possible around him (good about myself, good about him, happy, comfortable, turned on, etc.). It's at the point where I almost have to tell him, for fear of losing out on this possibility. In the past he has often said he doesn't have time for a gf, likes his time for his hobbies, etc. but lately he's making off-hand comments about wanting to buy a house, wanting a family, and similar things. He is 29.

If he doesn't share my feelings, things will be wierd for a while, but he's truly a decent guy and if I can make him understand that nothing has to change if he doesn't want it to, I am sure he won't toss away our years of friendship. I can deal with things being awkward for a while, but do you think they will change forever? Is the possible romance really worth the risk? I think it is, but I need some outside input. Do friends often become successful lovers? He could truly be the one, based on all your library advice and checklists. I just don't want to screw this up. What should I say? Or should I not say anything? Please help!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read this. I'm going crazy!

Dear Going Crazy,

Friends can make the best lovers and even the best life partners. The big problem is letting your friend know that you want more than a friendship.

You don’t want to make him uncomfortable or risk losing your friendship. Changing a friendship to a love relationship is always risky. If you become lovers and it doesn’t work out, it’s very hard to go back to being just friends. That’s why you should proceed with care.

I don’t advise a confession or even asking if he’d be interested in a different kind of relationship. Instead, I suggest letting romance happen accidentally on purpose. Try to set up potentially romantic situations which aren't obvious. Start by reaching out and touching him in a warmer than usual way. Then wait until the next situation before doing anything else.

Take it slowly, step by step. Give him a friendly hug. Next time, a friendly kiss. Next time, let the hug linger. If he shows signs of pulling away or trying to dispel the romantic mood and get back on a “friend” basis, then you’ll know that he doesn’t feel the same attraction you do without a word ever having to be said about it.

You really don’t want to put your friend on the spot and force him to awkwardly tell you he just doesn’t have those same feelings for you, or you’re not his type, or he's not attracted to you in that way.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Who’s In Charge?

Dear Dr. Tracy,

Hello, I'm 40 and divorced with two teenagers and my boyfriend is 44 and has never been married. He has a son from a previous (he was 32) relationship. We've been seeing each other for a year. We don't live together as I have told him unless I'm engaged to be married, I prefer to live apart. He hasn't asked me to move in but wants me at his house all the time so he can "keep an eye on me" why I don't know. I'm completely committed to him and he knows it. I'm confused about some issues with him. I've read your books (I love them!) and gone over your love library. His fiancee died in auto accident 20 years ago, 6 months after he proposed to her and I think he still is grieving over it. She passed away on a holiday (I was unaware of what day she passed on, he never told me) and this year he took off camping on that day, angry that I couldn't go with him due to a recent surgery and didn't call me for 5 days! I hope I'm not coming across cold, but my brother passed away when I was a teen so I know how awful it is to lose someone you love.

I asked him after we first got together if he would ever marry. I want to remarry at some point in the future and used your advice about asking questions early on in the relationship. I wanted to date a man that does plan on getting married, I don't want to date a confirmed bachelor. He told me yes but look what happened to him? Now when we fight he tells me he doesn't need anybody and I'm starting to believe him! Before we dated, he ended a 7 year relationship with his live-in girlfriend (his son is not by her) who I had heard wanted to get married. I was told by mutual friends that he didn't want to get married. He told her he did not love her anymore and ended their relationship. Will he do this to me too if we live together? Am I being foolish to hang around?

If I make plans with friends that don't include him he goes crazy, accuses me of seeing someone else, I feel insulted by this. I don't go out very often. He told me he wants me by his side so I'm with him. He expects me to hang out with him and his beer and sports buddies and gets very upset with me if I want to stay at my home. Do you think he's afraid of something happening to me like his fiancee? Or is he just trying to control me?

We recently went to visit friends out of town. He made plans for us to see the sites, but when we arrived he sat at the hotel with his buddy and they didn't want to go anywhere! The kids took off to site-see and my boyfriend was really upset! He was afraid his son would get lost and everyone had to assure him it would be OK. He was being too overprotective and everyone knew it. The kids did finally leave and then his friends wife wanted to show me the sites and my boyfriend became upset again claiming there were "weirdo's out there" and why did she have to take me away too? After another fanfare and begging, we ladies did site-see by ourselves. The men stayed at the hotel. I received the silent treatment from him when we returned.

Dr. Tracy, I need to know if you think he's afraid of losing me or if you think this is just plain controlling on his part. I'm starting to feel like a caged animal. Any thoughts you have would be greatly appreciated. Please help me decide if I need to let him go, I love him very much but I'm having serious doubts. Thanks for your imput.

Dear Controlled,

Your boyfriend shows every sign of having abandonment issues that he hasn’t worked through. It could be because of the loss of his fiancée all those years ago, or it could be something from his childhood.

He needs to see a therapist to work through his problems so that he can live a normal life and you can too. There is no reason that a man should be in charge of your life. He has no right to demand that you always be there by his side like a dog waiting to be petted.

The problem is that you are encouraging his behavior every time you pacify him or every time you agree to do what he wants. The more you let him control you the more he’ll think he’s entitled to control you and the more he’ll try to control you. There are no limits to the amount of control an insecure man wants over his love object.

If you feel like a caged animal now, take my word for it, it will only get worse. You can’t do enough to reassure him or to make him trust you. He needs to work out his deep-seated problems that have nothing to do with you.

If you continue in this relationship without putting your foot down, you’ll soon be totally under his control, afraid to do anything that will make him go crazy and accuse you of seeing someone else. He’ll be telling you who to have for friends, where to go, what to do and how to spend your money. You’ll never know any peace.

This is way more than being overprotective. Stop encouraging his controlling behavior and take control of your life back, even if it means losing him.

Certainly you shouldn’t rush into living with him or think about marriage until he changes his controlling ways.

Good luck,

Dr. Tracy

Submitting a Question to this column

Dr. Tracy regrets that it is simply impossible for her to answer all of the hundreds of questions submitted to this column each week. However, she does read every question, and tries to select the three which are of the most general interest to the visitors here.

Dr. Tracy says, "Is your question urgent? Many of the most beseeching, desperate messages I get are not answered in this column because the answer is just a couple of clicks away in my Love Library. Have you tried my Love Library? I know that nobody goes to libraries anymore, but check this one out -- it's so easily searchable that it's fun and easy to use!"

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You may submit your question to Dr.Tracy's column by e-mail here. (Tips: to increase your chances of having your question chosen, state your age and your marital history, and remember to use paragraph breaks so that your question isn't just one big, hard-to-read clump of words. Also, questions in all caps won't be answered.)

(Featured art from cover of Letting Go, by Zev Wanderer and Tracy Cabot, published by "Bitan" Publishers, Tel-Aviv, Israel)
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